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      The prolactin and growth hormone families: Pregnancy-specific hormones/cytokines at the maternal-fetal interface


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      Reproductive biology and endocrinology : RB&E

      BioMed Central

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          The prolactin (PRL) and growth hormone (GH) gene families represent species-specific expansions of pregnancy-associated hormones/cytokines. In this review we examine the structure, expression patterns, and biological actions of the pregnancy-specific PRL and GH families.

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          Pregnancy-stimulated neurogenesis in the adult female forebrain mediated by prolactin.

          Neurogenesis occurs in the olfactory system of the adult brain throughout life, in both invertebrates and vertebrates, but its physiological regulation is not understood. We show that the production of neuronal progenitors is stimulated in the forebrain subventricular zone of female mice during pregnancy and that this effect is mediated by the hormone prolactin. The progenitors then migrate to produce new olfactory interneurons, a process likely to be important for maternal behavior, because olfactory discrimination is critical for recognition and rearing of offspring. Neurogenesis occurs even in females that mate with sterile males. These findings imply that forebrain olfactory neurogenesis may contribute to adaptive behaviors in mating and pregnancy.
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            Comparative developmental anatomy of the murine and human definitive placentae.

            The placenta of eutherian mammals is a remarkable biological structure. It is composed of both zygote-derived and maternal cells, and mediates the complex interactions between the mother and the fetus that are necessary for fetal growth and survival. While the genetic basis of human placental development and function is largely unknown, its understanding is of immense clinical importance because placentopathies of unknown genetic aetiology are thought to be the cause of many types of pregnancy complications including unexplained miscarriage and intrauterine growth retardation. The mouse is the best-studied mammalian experimental genetic model system and research is not restricted by the inherent ethical and practical limitations associated with the human. As a result, knowledge about the genetic control of mouse placental development has expanded greatly in recent years. In order for this to be of benefit to medical practice, extrapolations from murine to human placentation have to be made. However, comprehensive comparisons of the placentae of these two species are rare. This review therefore compares the developmental anatomy of the placenta between humans and mice with emphasis on structures and cell types that might be analogous between the two species. This could be of particular benefit to mouse developmental geneticists who study placental development and have an interest in the possible clinical implications of their work. Copyright 2002 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.
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              Activation of orphan receptors by the hormone relaxin.

              Relaxin is a hormone important for the growth and remodeling of reproductive and other tissues during pregnancy. Although binding sites for relaxin are widely distributed, the nature of its receptor has been elusive. Here, we demonstrate that two orphan heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide binding protein (G protein)-coupled receptors, LGR7 and LGR8, are capable of mediating the action of relaxin through an adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cAMP)-dependent pathway distinct from that of the structurally related insulin and insulin-like growth factor family ligand. Treatment of antepartum mice with the soluble ligand-binding region of LGR7 caused parturition delay. The wide and divergent distribution of the two relaxin receptors implicates their roles in reproductive, brain, renal, cardiovascular, and other functions.

                Author and article information

                Reprod Biol Endocrinol
                Reproductive biology and endocrinology : RB&E
                BioMed Central (London )
                5 July 2004
                : 2
                : 51
                [1 ]Institute of Maternal-Fetal Biology, Division of Cancer & Developmental Biology, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, Kansas City, Kansas 66160, USA
                Copyright © 2004 Soares; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original URL.

                Human biology


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